Comrades in arms: Britain and Russia to sign defence deal

Britain could buy weapons from its former Cold War foe for the first time under a landmark defence treaty, the Telegraph can reveal.

Defence chiefs are preparing to sign a deal that would see British defence companies working jointly on projects with the Russian arms industry.

The treaty allows arms companies to buy kit from Russia – and Russian diplomatic sources said they hope one day to see British soldiers carrying the Red Army’s famous Kalashnikov rifle as a result.

Ministry of Defence sources confirmed the deal creates the legal framework for the British Army to buy Russian equipment, but stressed their main focus is on allowing firms to share information and buy components from one another.

The deal covers ‘unclassified’ technology, so it is unlikely to allow co-operation on advanced battlefield equipment such as missile systems.

Nevertheless treaty is regarded by defence chiefs and diplomats as a major step forward in the relationship between Britain and Russia, which went into deep freeze following the polonium murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London and the granting of asylum in Britain to some of Mr Putin’s rivals.

President Putin wants to dramatically boost Russia’s arms exports to compete with the European defence industry. He has also announced a radical expansion in military spending in order to overhaul an army and navy that are reliant on hopelessly outdated weapons from the Soviet era. The deal means that British factories are in line to benefit from those orders.

Full article: Comrades in arms: Britain and Russia to sign defence deal (The Telegraph)

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